Over the decades, towns and cities undergo great change as they evolve from agrarian societies into metropolitan areas. Multi-unit residential properties, modern office buildings and skyscrapers replace older buildings and styles of architecture, now considered too old-fashioned by some.
Many original buildings often survive a city’s transformation, some because they are located in what are now poorer communities that can’t afford to demolish them, while others undergo adaptive reuse. Currently, many buildings in downtown Los Angeles are undergoing gentrification and repurposing, such as decades-old factories seeing conversion as lofts and vintage hotels converted into apartments. Luck also helps some structures survive and continue operation just as originally intended.
Mary Mallory’s “Hollywoodland: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.
One such vintage building not only survives, but seems to be thriving as it did when constructed in 1947, the 4418 Vineland Ave. Toluca Plaza building. When it opened back in the 1940s, the builders called it the North Hollywood Medical Arts Building, a structure housing offices for those working in the medical profession.
Sixty-seven years later, the Toluca Plaza still hosts medical offices, housing such businesses as the Center for Vision Care and the Tenacity Women’s Fitness gym. Stucco seems to cover the original brick, and the terrazzo tile entrance has been removed.
Fred Dreckman operated the first pharmacy in the building, documented in photographs taken by his niece. These images show the building looking almost identical today. Once big difference; customers in 1947 could arrive via the Pacific Electric Railway, which ran parallel to Vineland on the east side of the street. The Pacific Electric North Hollywood substation stood across the street at 4475 Vineland Ave., as it had since 1911. Most of the original structure burned in a 1985 fire and was rebuilt.
Humorous captions accompany the photographs, which I found in a photograph album for sale at the Glendale Postcard Show about three years ago. The young woman was an excellent artist, drawing lovely illustrations around the images and captions.
The view of the building across Vineland Avenue and the streetcar tracks contains the following caption: “North Hollywood Medical Arts Building — (Impressive Title Hmm!!). As seen from across the ohh — “Toonerville” Trolley Tracks (Good shot of the tracks, don’t you think??).”
The following caption appears underneath the photograph of the intersection: “Moorpark and Vineland. Where we dash madly across the street — foiling the plans of the motorists who desparately (sic) try to hit us (HaHa — we’re too fast for ‘em).”
Photograph by Mary Mallory. Moorpark and Vinland today.
Looking from Landale Street down Vineland, the photograph gets the following caption: “The Building Looking down Vineland.”
The front entrance showing the building’s name on the glass and the original tile, with the caption: “Entrance to the “Workhouse”…and “Aunt” Nell trying to hustle out of the picture.”
The original building seems to have featured two addresses: 4418 and 4420.
While it’s wonderful to see the building still standing and in operation as originally intended, the Toluca Plaza building is listed for sale at $7.495 million per items online, with suggestions of development as commercial condominiums. Hopefully, tenants and patients can convince the management company of the beauty and integrity of the building and preserve it as a lovely medical office building, serving the needs of patients as it has for 67 years.